Culture and the Arts, a powerful means to foster women’s rights


In Timor-Leste, women dance the "tebe - tebe" and play the "Babadok" beside a sacred tree in the village of Camenasa. Photo: UNMIT / Martine Perret

On the International Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21May), a look at how different forms of culture and performing arts are addressing development issues such as ending violence against women, women's economic empowerment and women's leadership.

Addressing Violence against Women through Theatre in PNG

Dramatizing violence! That's the motto of the community-based Seeds Theatre Group to address violence against women and girls in the densely populated communities of the Lae District in the Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. The group consists primarily of unemployed youth and uses theatre as a powerful tool to raise awareness in urban communities with high risks of HIV/AIDS, crime and drugs. Funded through UN Women's Pacific Fund to End Violence against Women, the Seeds Theatre Group holds performances in public areas, including markets, bus stops and public neighbourhoods. More »

Empowering Arab Women through Music

“Needless to prove, I am basically half the world. So sings Angham, one of the Arab world's most successful female vocalists in her new single Nos El Donia or “Half the World, which she has dedicated to Egyptian women. The song comes at a pertinent time. As Egypt strives to stabilize its economy and prepare for presidential elections, women's rights campaigners are working hard to keep gender equality a key national priority. Nos El Donia was a voluntary collaboration between Angham and other heavyweight music professionals in the Arab world, with UN Women, to advocate on critical messages. More »

Knowledge Preservation: the Path to Sustainable Development in Indigenous Communities of Mexico

UN Women supports indigenous women in Mexico in advancing their rights by strengthening the institutional capacity of the National Commission for Development of Indigenous Peoples. The agreement between these two organizations aims to demonstrate the contribution of indigenous women to their communities and wider society in the spirit of Buen Vivir (Good Living), a holistic approach that includes indigenous knowledge preservation. The results of the agreement prove that using traditional knowledge such as respect for the environment, ancestral craftwork and natural medicine, indigenous women can be empowered economically and politically. More »

Involving Georgian National Sport Stars to End Violence against Women

The work being done in Georgia to address violence against women is taking place on many fronts, notwithstanding its national playing fields. A partnership between UN Women and the Georgian Rugby Union has recently fired the national imagination through an innovative advocacy campaign. Famed national players who serve as role models for that nation have spoken out about “zero tolerance for domestic violence on TV talk shows and public service announcements, in local media and press conferences, and at rugby games. And it appears that the message of positive masculinity has been taking root. “All my friends dream to become rugby players. They are strong and kind, like real men, and I want to be like them, said 13-year-old Sandro, at one of the games. More »

Performing Artists from the Caribbean Raising Awareness on Violence

Working with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, UN Women ran a workshop in Suriname to connect performing artists in the region to themes and issues surrounding gender-based violence. In 2011, working together with practitioners in the gender, media and ‘edutainment' fields, artists from Belize, Guyana and Suriname were inspired to bring their creative skills to the message of the UNiTE campaign, the UN Secretary General's Campaign to End Violence against Women. Together they launched artistic works for outreach in the region, ranging from theatre pieces and jingles, to a public service announcement, and a calypso song written by Guyana artist Young Bill Rogers. The participants also collaborated on a documentary on sexual, psychological and physical violence, using the native dialects of Belize, Guyana and Suriname. Each artistic work aims to raise awareness and question the “culture of normalcy that surrounds gender-based and promote positive attitudes towards women. More »

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